Amongst the many projects I have on the go, I am trying to get each version of the Enterprise in 1/650 scale. I have REL's Enterprise-D and E and (AMT's?) TOS Enterprise, but there's a gap there for the refit, A, B and C.
So why not start at the end and scratchbuild the C!
This build is possible because of the fine folks here in the forum that have graciously posted their techniques and answered questions. After following Steve Neill's threads and IEDBOUNTYHUNTER's threads, I think I have the information I need to begin. These guys are super awesome in answering questions and are generally just great guys to have here on the forums.
In addition to the techniques, I needed some accurate reference. For this, I reached out to Charles Casimiro, who has made an excellent 3D model of this ship. We've been working together to get the shots I need to be able to make formers for the masters. He's another great guy to work with.
Anyways, there's not a heck of a lot to show so far, but I believe that you need to have a solid and accurate foundation to build off of or you risk making a lot of work for yourself later on.
I am starting with the saucer sections and have broken them up into the top and bottom to make molding easier when I get to that point. I created formers in scale using Charles' images of his model from the front view. I cut the top saucer formers out of thin acrylic, which I regret now as it's not very sturdy. It'll gain strength from foam filler and fiberglassing though. I also lathed a center cylinder to make sure it's true and lathed a hole in the middle of it to use as an anchor for a contour tool I've made to ensure the saucer's profile is right.
All the formers and contour tools were cut on my CNC. It does a great job of getting the basic shape of what I need then I putty and sand any imperfections until they're right.
Here you can see where I've put foam in between the formers and secured it with Gorilla Glue.
Once it was dry, I shaped the foam to the height of the formers. Later I reduced the foam's height to allow for a layer of fiberglass. I want the master to be strong.
Here's where I put a layer of fiberglass and shortened the cylinder to be close to the top of the formers. It still has to be adjusted a bit more.
Last night, I started putting a layer of Bondo over the glass. It'll get a 2nd layer, which I'll smooth out using the contour tool I've made. This should reduce the sanding needed to get the desired shape.
For the bottom saucer, I used MDF as the former material, which worked out much better. I also made the middle cylinder the same height as the formers right away. This cylinder also has a brass tube in the middle for the contour tool, which will have a slightly smaller diameter brass tube attached to it.
I still have to shape the foam here, then it'll get a layer of fiberglass like the top saucer.
I have enough info to go on to create the formers for the secondary hull, so I've begun that. I'll do it in halves to ease mold making later. I haven't thought of a good strong way to make the pylons and their "wing" which attaches to the secondary hull. I want to run some sort of reinforcing tube that's embedded in resin for my eventual cast. The master won't be difficult but I want to think ahead to the mold making and casting process.
I tend to bounce around on projects, but I want to try out new techniques so I'm pretty committed to getting this one done. At the same time I'm working on REL's reissued Enterprise-E which has all sorts of casting, fiberglassing, decal and mask problems (not by REL though). I must like pain because it's pretty bad but it's also an opportunity to try out new techniques, tools and materials.